Friday, April 10, 2015

Ramble Report April 9 2015

This post was written by Hugh Nourse. Additional text was supplied by Dale and is in square brackets. The photos are by Don Hunter. You can find more of Don's photos of the ramble here. Please give Don the credit he deserves. His photographs add greatly to this blog. The three of us (Hugh, Dale and Don) hope that these posts are useful, informative and interesting.

[Note for new Ramblers: Check lists of plants in the natural areas of the Garden, Trail guides, Trail maps and other information of interest to Ramblers are linked to at this site.]
Twenty-three Ramblers met at 8:30AM at the arbor by the lower parking lot.  First we heard a poem by Ted Boss, The World is in Pencil,  read by Scott Mason.  Bob Ambrose followed with a recitation of one of his recent poems: Your Life is a Fractal Shadow.

Our route today began at the Flower Bridge in the International Garden, passing through the American Indian collection, Physic Garden, and pawpaw patch. Reaching the Freedom Plaza we took the stairs down to a native plant walk leading to the Purple Trail; from the Purple Trail to the Orange Trail along the Middle Oconee River, then left beside the beaver pond. Reaching the bridge back to the Flower Garden, we returned to the Visitor Center through the gardens.

Our first stop was in the Southeastern section of the International Garden.  This represents
Georgia Rockcress
the plants from the Southeast discovered by botanical explorers.  Ed commented how amazing it must have been for those explorers to find all of these new plants to take back to Europe.  There were three blooming plants to see here: Georgia rockcress, a threatened plant in Georgia, known only in 28 sites in Georgia and Alabama, a bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana,  and white false indigo. I do not know where the ‘false’ comes from since my guide calls it white wild indigo.

Crossing the Flower Bridge we were overwhelmed by the fragrance of the Florida azaleas in bloom.  Several weeks ago we had seen them beginning to open.  Now as we moved into the Far East section of the International Garden there was a variegated Solomon seal along the path, as well as several azaleas, one of which was red, the other pink, called Azalea ‘Coral Bell’,

The Age of Conservation in botanical gardens is represented by a garden collection of rare and endangered plants including the Georgia Rockcress we saw earlier.  Two azaleas were in bloom.  One we did not know, and the other was a plumleaf azalea, which is supposed to bloom much later, as late as July.  But apparently, it did this last year as we made the same comment in our report a year ago.  Since some had not heard about the Torreya, we talked about how the Garden is a safe-guarding site for this tree which is struggling in steepheads of ravines along the Appalachicola River in Florida and along a similar place in Georgia beside Lake Seminole.  For some reason it does not produce viable seeds there.  Two of the plants we viewed were short and had lateral branches but no leader going straight up. These had been cloned from twigs of this rare tree.  Eventually similar plants safe guarded at The Atlanta Botanical Garden produced seeds. Plants grown from those seeds grow normally. The third tree in front of us, grown from those seeds had a leader and was growing tall.

The agressive Golden ragwort was growing in the beds of the Rare and Endangered Plant Garden.  Nearby in the American Indian Collection was a hawthorne.  The Garden has not figured which of the Hawthornes this is, just giving it the label, Crateagus sp.

Beside it were a number of slender toothworts. The prize was a Meadow hyacinth or Indian
Slender Toothwort
quamash. The scientific name the Garden provided is Camasia leichtlinii.  My horticulture encyclopedia indicates that it has a white bloom, whereas the ones in front of us were blue.  It could be a cultivar of the above plant, which does have blue flowers, or it could be Camasia scilloides, wild hyacinth, which grows along the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail in Northwest Georgia. Billie, the curator tells me that the sign should be Camasia sp..  Goldenseal, a medicinal plant, Solomon’s seal, Christmas fern, and Mayapple were all prospering in this collection of plants.  Ramblers found Mayapples with flowers at the junction of the stems of the two leaves. Plants with a single leaf do not produce a flower. We found a confusing label.  It read that we were looking at wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, the plant from which wintergreen is commercially produced. But procumbens means it is low to the ground.  Here there was only a tall blueberry, which Billie says is Vaccinium corymbosum.
PawPaw flower
Walking on through the Physic Garden, we came to the Pawpaw patch.  The trees were in flower with their small but pretty maroon petals and yellow centers.

Going down the steps to the native plant walk, we were greeted by lovely Piedmont azaleas and Red and Painted buckeyes.  Hugh thought that one of the shrubs had the flowers of both species. But an astute observer, Mrs. Hall, pointed out they were really on separate bushes.  These two buckeyes hybridize, but only in the Piedmont and not in Coastal Georgia.  That may be because the pollinator, a hummingbird, migrates north from the red to the painted buckeyes in the spring when they are in flower, but they are not flowering during the southward fall migration.  That theory did not seem to work here.

The native plant wall led us to the Purple Trail where we found a Highbush blueberry, Vaccinium elliottii. A Hophornbeam tree was riddled with Sapsucker holes, but seemed to be doing just fine. I asked everyone if they recognized a young sapling was with sharp pointed sheaths on its twigs.  They knew it immediately, an American beech.  At one of the turns in the trail, we looked down to see the dark trunk of a huge persimmon tree first noted for us by Linda Chafin. The ground was littered with the discarded twig sheaths and new maple leaves and samaras that squirrels must have chewed off the trees.  Looking at a leaf, Dale identified it as a red maple.

Beyond the old deer fence the trail was blocked with logs, and a new trail went left  along
Silverbell flower
the beaver pond and down to the Orange Trail.  Walter Cook is being paid by the Garden to work on the trail system. The erosion on the old trail was so severe that Walter relocated this path.  It was a real improvement and gave us views of the beaver pond that we had not had before.  Amazingly, we found a small Silverbell tree no more than 2 feet high with a single flower. At the Orange Trail we once again noted the difference between the bark of the Musclewood tree, Carpinus caroliniana, and hop hornbeam, Ostrya virginiana.  The former looks like it is made up of sinewy muscles, and the latter looks like a cat scratched it. Along the river we noted two huge River birch trees with crossvines crawling up them.

Since we had newcomers who had not heard the story of the dam at the beaver pond, we retold it.  Some time ago it was a real beaver pond with a beaver dam where there are now concrete bags. At the headwaters of the creek, the UGA pig farms were located, and caused problems with the quality of the water of the creek.  So  after the beavers left the University dammed the creek again to improve the quality of the water before it went into the Middle Oconee River.

As we rounded the corner to follow the creek away from the river, we pointed out the wonderful heath bluff above the river.  Right now a beautiful Piedmont azalea is in bloom
Crown tipped coral fungus
there.  Earlier there was a Silverbell.  Later this year, we will see the flowers of mountain laurel. Along the trail, squirrels had dropped buds of Tulip trees.  On a log nearby we saw a coral fungus.  Don Hunter looked it up and named it Crown tipped coral fungus. Both box elder sprouts and Poison ivy were close together along the trail, so we took time to show the difference between the two. Box elders have opposite leaves, while Poison ivy has alternate leaves.  There were also the five leaflets of Virginia creeper nearby.

Sensitive fern
Crossing the Eagle Scout bridge we saw Sensitive fern.  Several fertile fronds were found with the spore-bearing structures pressed upward around the stem.  On Netted
Sensitive fern fertile frond
chain fern, which looks similar, the spore bearing structures are held laterally from the stem like tree branches and the sori seem to form a chain.  Adjacent in the water were the arrow shaped leaves of Duck potato. Along the path past the bridge were a Yellow morel
Yellow Morel
mushroom, Rattlesnake fern, and the new unfurling leaves of Christmas fern. Probably the best find of the day was Avis’s discovery of a Green tree frog in a shrub right next to the trail.  Everybody got a good chance to see this beauty.  We hailed Don Hunter to make sure he got a photo. [You may have heard the advertisement
Green tree frog
call of the Green tree frog before. It is a hollow nasal "honk" or "bonk". Better than me describing it, you can listen to it here, and here is a link to a recording of the Green tree frog aggressive call.]

[Several people saw something unusual on the surface of the creek. What appeared to be an insect seemed to be bouncing up and down on the water. The insect was really a mated pair of dragonflies, flying in tandem, the male gripping the female behind her head with fork-like projections at the end of his slender abdomen. The bouncing was not what it seemed. The pair descend toward the water and as they near it the female curves her abdomen downward until the tip just enters the water. As the tip dips into the water she releases an egg which will sink to the bottom of the creek. Just as soon as she releases the egg she and her mate fly upward, creating the effect that they have bounced off the surface of the creek. This action was repeated several times while we watched and then the pair flew off. The eggs will hatch into a predatory aquatic nymph that will feed on other insects in the creek for a year or more. Eventually it will crawl out of the water and an adult dragonfly will emerge, in much the same fashion as a cicada emerges from its nymphal shell.]

[Just slightly upstream we saw a termite swarm on a small tree stump. These winged termites are the reproductive caste – their sterile, wingless siblings are left underground, feeding on the rotting wood. When conditions are suitable the colony produces fertile reproductives, called alates, that emerge into the above ground world and fly off to mate and found new colonies. While we watched the hundred-plus alates gathered on the top of the stump and slowly seemed to evaporate as, one by one, they flew off to meet their fate. Unfortunately, by this time Don was out of sight so we did not get a photograph of the event.]

From here to the bridge to the Flower Garden, we saw a number of flowers blooming:  Rue
Three-part yellow violet
anemone, Bluestars, Three part yellow violets, and Mayapple.  We saw the leaves of Wild yam and Lion’s foot.  A flowering
May apple flower
Jack-in-the-pulpit gave us a chance to talk about the difference between the leaves of Trilliums and Jacks.  Both are monocots meaning their leaves are parallel veined, but those of Jack-in-the-pulpit have a midvein from which parallel veins go to the edge of the leaf where they join a vein along the margin of the leaf.  Also the arrangement of the leaves are different.  Trillium leaves are
Jack-in-the-Pulpit leaf
equidistant from each other around the stem.  Jack-in-the-pulpit leaves have two that are opposite and the third one lies perpendicular to these two. Crossing the bridge for the return trip to the Visitor Center, we found Wood sorrel and Common blue violets in flower, as well as the leaves of Perfoliate bellwort.

In the woodland walk in the Flower Garden we found flowering Green and gold, Dwarf crested iris, and Jack-in-
the-pulpit.  One of the jacks was solid green, and the other had maroon stripes. Next we found the Native wisteria just beginning to flower.  An unusual tree for this part of the country, a Live oak tree is growing beside the Heritage Garden.

Today our ramble was video recorded by a student in photojournalism, who did a report on us last year.  Afterwards he interviewed Dale and myself.  Hope he gets a good grade!

We retired to Donderos for conversation and snacks.

(Comments: b=blooming or, if fern, with fertile frond; g=in garden, not the natural area, otherwise in the natural area)
Common Name
Scientific Name
Georgia rockcress
Arabis georgiana
Eastern bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana
White false indigo
Baptisia lactea
Florida azalea
Rhododendron austrinum
Plumleaf azalea
Rhododendron prunifolium
Torreya pines
Torreya taxifolia
Golden ragwort
Packera aurea
Hawthorne tree
Crataegus sp.
Slender Toothwort
Cardamine heterophylla

syn. Dentaria heterophylla

Meadow hyacinth
Camassia quamash
Solomon’s seal
Polygonatum biflorum
Hydrastis canadensis
Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Podophyllum peltatum
Vaccinium sp.
Paw Paw
Asimina triloba
Red Buckeye
Aesculus pavia
Yellow buckeye
Aesculus flava
Hop hornbeam
Ostrya virginiana

American beech
Fagus grandifolia

American persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Red maple
Acer rubrum

Carolina silverbell
Halesia carolina
Bignonia capreolata

River birch
Betula nigra

Tulip poplar
Liriodendron tulipifera

Crown-tipped coral fungus
Clavicorona pyxidata

Box elder
Acer negundo

Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Sensitive fern
Onoclea sensibilis
Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Rattlesnake fern
Botrypus virginianus

Kidneyleaf buttercup
Ranunculus abortiva
Yellow morel
Morchella esculenta

Duck potato
Sagittaria latifolia

Green tree frog
Hyla cinerea

Rue anemone
Thalictrum thalictroides

Jack in the pulpit
Arisaema triphyllum
Order Odonata: Anisoptera

Threepart violet
Viola tripartita
Wild yam
Dioscorea villosa

Lion’s foot
Prenanthes sp.

Yellow woodsorrel
Oxalis stricta
Common blue violets
Viola sororia
Perfoliate bellwort
Uvularia perfoliata
Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum
Dwarf crested iris
Iris cristata
American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens
Live oak
Quercus virginiana

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